A large majority of nurses find themselves working at hospitals, clinics, school campuses and rest homes. But for individuals who would rather step outside of the comfort zone traditional medical settings provide, the profession of a military nurse could end up being a much better fit.
Military nurses are given the huge responsibility of caring for and treating wounded soldiers during times of war–oftentimes right on the front line or in the field. Because of their military affiliation, they are assigned to various posts/stations throughout the time of their service, which includes working in foreign countries as well as on US bases. In addition to providing urgent care for the ill and wounded, military nurses also offer services related to rehabilitation and recovery for soldiers returning home from war.
To say that this career path is a challenging one is an understatement. Of the types of nurses there are, military nurses are definitely considered to be the most versatile and work in some of the most demanding and difficult situations.
Each branch of the military (Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force) has a need for nurses and comes with its own list of requirements and criteria that must be met in order to be considered. It is important for aspiring military nurses to review the requirements for each branch and select the one that is best suited for them.
There are 2 main ways to pursue the career path of a military nurse: joining the ROTC or going through the direct commission process. The main factor that distinguishes the two is that the ROTC helps individuals with their nursing education, which automatically gets them commissioned as a military nurse, while the direct commission requires a person to already hold a nursing degree.
The requirements that come with each approach vary but some areas where they do overlap include being able to successfully pass a background check (this is necessary to be given secret clearance status upon employment), a clean record (no felony convictions), passing a physical, being a US citizen and meeting the age requirement.
Going into the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) means receiving financial assistance with college. As part of the agreement, students must also take courses related to military history and leadership, as well as attend ROTC camp during the summers they are enrolled in school. In exchange, upon graduation, receiving their BSN and passing the NCLEX-RN exam to earn their license, these new nurses will be automatically commissioned into the military and assigned to their post in the role of a military nurse.
Choosing the direct commission approach means being responsible for earning your nursing degree. It is important to earn a BSN from an accredited nursing school or program that the military will recognize. You must also be licensed as a registered nurse. Once those prerequisites have been met, you’ll have to contact the military healthcare recruiter for the branch you’re interested in joining. This will allow you to enter the military as a nurse and you’ll also be sworn in as an officer.